Five new educational communities have joined Village Way network.

Over the past six months, the world has faced unforeseeable challenges. Despite nationwide lockdowns and quarantines, Village Way Educational Initiatives (VWEI) has added five new educational communities to its Village Way network for a three-year Village Way integration Village Way expands in Israelprocess. These new partners include four high schools and one youth village – all with high populations of at-risk youth.

We now can count a total of 60 educational communities that have adopted the Village Way methodology, bringing our direct cumulative impact in these communities to 25,550 youth at risk and 2,750 educators.

The Village Way team continues working with partnering educational communities on the many challenges they are facing because of the coronavirus crisis. This includes making plans for all possible logistical options for the future with health restrictions and the realities of lockdowns and isolation.

Village Way facilitators continue their work with educators on creating a sense of meaning among youth who may be experiencing feelings of helplessness and despair, through different activities that get them actively serving others in their family, neighborhood and the wider community.

Village Way educators learn togetherVWEI’s think tank, the Village Way Educational Institute, continues to address the new reality of “distance learning.” For Israel’s population of at-risk youth, there is a deep concern that "distance learning" will quickly degenerate into “no learning.” Many fragile students struggle with academic challenges and emotional issues, and live in disruptive environments. They need a lot of interaction and personal attention to enter the emotional space required for learning.

The Educational Institute has been working with educators to meet the challenges of this new reality and respond to changing needs in real time, by developing and distributing materials, providing training sessions, hosting online events, and engaging in individual consultations.

Ofra Fruend, Principal, David Tuviyahu High School in Be’er Sheva, a new VWEI community said, “The Village Way team are the only ones who stood by our side. In our loneliness, through all of the challenges during this time, you have been there with support and tools we can use tomorrow, not just more tasks to be carried out.”

The Village Way methodology is now so critically relevant for educators and educational leaders, as it highlights exactly the issues that need addressing during the crisis, allowing educators to remain focused on what is important during anxious and uncertain times.

An example of how the Village Way is helping communities during this crisis can be seen at Ramat Hadassah Youth Village. In recent months, our facilitators worked with the village leadership on learning lessons from the first lockdown last spring.

Focus was placed on how much they succeeded when the youth were given real responsibilities in the crisis, when both the staff and kids felt like they were meaningfully contributing to the community, and also when there was transparency about what was going on in the village, breeding trust.

When there was an unfortunate coronavirus outbreak at the village this fall, and many youth and staff had to go into quarantine, the leadership was prepared to do all that was necessary logistically to protect the health of their staff and kids, and were also able to act according to the values and lessons they had focused on over the summer: transparency, trust, community, responsibility, and meaning.

They took active steps, such as coordinating information, giving a specific role to each community member, and even recording messages to parents in Russian and Amharic that explained the situation. They focused on daily contact with each youth and staff member in quarantine. This is a case study being shared and analyzed by other youth village directors, as it is unfortunately a relevant lesson for all.

Click here to read how our Village Way family was initially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic in Israel.

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